Constitution Day

Published 11:21 pm Friday, September 17, 2010

By Congressman Randy Forbes

“The Constitution of the United States was made not merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity — unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity.” Henry Clay, America’s “Great Compromiser,” knew that there were some things that could not be compromised — chief among them our Constitution.

On September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was signed by the 39 delegates who made up the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Yesterday, 223 years later, we celebrated Constitution Day to recognize this foundational document and the vision our Founding Fathers had for our great democracy.

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The Constitution establishes our structure of our government, our method for passing laws, and the duties of the federal government. Throughout all of this organization, though, the chief principle among the entire document is the fact that our Constitution grants limited, enumerated powers to the federal government to ensure that individual liberties and freedoms are protected.

It is this focus on individual rights that makes the American experiment unique. It is this focus on freedom that makes the Constitution the world’s longest surviving written charter of government.

During the past several years, however, I have heard growing concerns from many of my constituents that our nation and its leaders are straying further from the vision the Founders had for our country.

Especially during the past couple years Americans have become increasingly concerned over the vast expansion of the scope and reach of the federal government. Predominant among their concerns is that federal bureaucracy is exceeding sovereignty; the role of individual right and responsibility is being overshadowed by rapid growth in federal government.

Our Founding Fathers believed that American greatness came not from the power of the federal government, wealth, military power, or pride, but rather from empowering individual citizens to pursue their unique dreams.

To ensure that we remember this vision of our Founding Fathers, I have cosponsored legislation that reaffirms our commitment to the Constitution and reminds Congress of limitations to its reach and power.

The Enumerated Powers Act, H.R. 450, requires that each Act of Congress contain a concise and definite statement of the constitutional authority relied upon for the enactment of that law. This measure will force Congress to scrutinize the role of government on an ongoing basis and stem the tide of an ever-expanding reach of the federal government into the homes, wallets, and freedoms of Americans.

H. Res. 1006 is a simple but powerful resolution that reaffirms Congress’ commitment to the 10th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 10th Amendment states ““The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

H. Res. 1006 recognizes that it is the responsibility of Congress to make sure these rights are safeguarded and to ensure that legislation passed by Congress does not overstep the bounds of this right.

I believe every American should read the Constitution and become familiar with the powerful principles in this foundational document. Whether you once read it in seventh grade, specialize in constitutional law as an attorney, or have never read the document at all, I hope that in observation of Constitution Day, you will take some time to read through the United States Constitution or take some time to memorize the Preamble. In addition, I invite you to stop by one of my offices to pick up your own pocket-sized copy of the Constitution.

By remembering our Founder’s vision for our country, we will all become better informed citizens working to pass on the spirit and letter of our Constitution’s law to – as Henry Clay once said – unlimited posterity.